Scientists have discovered and are continuing to discover that both cannabis with THC and whole plant CBD are promising treatments for numerous conditions. Plus, cannabis and CBD may also prevent those conditions from cropping up in the first place, making it the ultimate wellness supplement. When integrated in a wellness lifestyle plan, CBD may help with chronic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, pain, skin disorders, and more. At the end of the day, it is all about balance and homeostasis.
How CBD Can Help
Because scientists are still researching the endocannabinoid system, they are continuing to find new applications for cannabis and its cannabinoids, including CBD. The list of conditions that CBD may impact is already a mile long. Cannabis researchers have labeled CBD a “promiscuous” compound because it is involved in numerous systems and processes in the body to confer therapeutic benefits. Here are a few roles that CBD plays:
- Anticonvulsant, or anti-seizure
Researchers have discovered that when the neurotransmitter serotonin appears in low levels in the brain, individuals experience depressive and anxious symptoms. Mental illnesses such as depression and generalized anxiety disorder are chemical imbalances in the brain. CBD works in a similar way that antidepressants do. It influences specific serotonin receptors so that the chemical messenger cannot be reabsorbed, making it more available in the brain. CBD’s potential to enhance serotonin pathways supports its mood-boosting effects. Learn more about how CBD can be part of treatment plans for anxiety and depression.
CBD can affect pain pathways by activating receptors that regulate pain perception and body temperature. CBD can also reduce the inflammation often associated with temporary pain, such as a swollen stubbed toe, and chronic pain, which often results from irritated, sensitized nerves. Mood disorders that involve the serotonin pathway, such as anxiety and depression, are correlated with chronic pain. Because CBD can target both serotonin and pain pathways, it is a multifaceted option for pain sufferers. You can find more information on CBD for chronic pain relief here.
Chronic inflammation is a contributing factor in numerous chronic diseases, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to type 2 diabetes. One of CBD’s most important capabilities is as a potent anti-inflammatory. In fact, the government has a patent on CBD as an anti-inflammatory! (It is U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507, if you are interested.)
Talk about a Runner’s High
If you love cardio, swimming, yoga, meditation, or having an orgasm, you are certainly familiar with the feeling of euphoria. You have to love those endorphins, right? Not so fast. That high feeling is the work of the endocannabinoid system’s anandamide molecule—another reason CBD is so great at elevating mood.
HELP HEART HEALTH
Your heart can be affected by conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammation, and stress. Fortunately, CBD can target each of these contributors. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help keep the immune system from causing additional damage in response to the heart.
As you age, your bones naturally weaken, which can leave you open to painful fractures and serious breaks. Diminished bone density may be related to clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. CBD has been shown to strengthen bones and ward off osteoporosis by indirectly activating the endocannabinoid receptors that regulate bone health and even protect against bone loss.
FEED BRAIN HEALTH
CBD is neuroprotective, which means that it helps reduce damage to the brain—associated with stress, trauma, or illness—and helps generate neurons. Some studies suggest it may keep serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s from developing by changing gene expression to remove the amyloid plaques. New research indicates that it is the removal system, not the plaques themselves, that is the issue in Alzheimer’s. There is also evidence that whole plant CBD (in some cases with low-level THC) can also help to treat gut–brain axis disorders, such as autism.
The up-and-down fluctuation of hormones throughout a woman’s reproductive life cycle can sometimes wreak havoc on mood, anxiety, and overall wellness. The endocannabinoid system, endocrine system, and reproductive system are intimately intertwined, underscoring that cannabinoids can provide balance and homeostasis to the reproductive system. The studies and anecdotal clinical evidence about the relationship between women’s health and the endocannabinoid system is overwhelming.
REGULATE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
CBD and THC each has its sweet spot, and CBD definitely owns the immune system. Consider the recovery after a fever. Body temperature needs to lower back down to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which happens with the help of the endocannabinoid system.
SOOTHE SKIN CONDITIONS
Many common skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, start with inflammation. Of course, dealing with inflammation is a specialty of CBD. Endocannabinoid receptors are found in abundance in the skin, which is the second-largest organ in the human body (the microbiome being the largest). CBD can inhibit the overactive immune response that leads to red, irritated, and inflamed skin. CBD topicals have shown promising results for a number of skin conditions, which is why CBD skincare products are popping up everywhere.
BE AT OXIDATIVE STRESS
While the term antioxidant probably is not new to you, you may not actually know what antioxidants do. Well, they protect you from excessive oxidative stress in your body—from pollution, trauma, chemical irritants, and more—which damages cells and can lead to numerous serious conditions. In fact, CBD is a more powerful anti-oxidant than the go-to vitamins C and E.
What about Taking Too Much?
CBD has been recognized for its lack of serious side effects, but proceed with caution. When CBD is taken in conjunction with other medications for serious conditions, such as epilepsy or psychotic disorders, it is important to consult your prescribing clinician about interactions. Current research points to tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite as possible side effects of CBD. Furthermore, in some disorders, such as glaucoma, high doses of CBD can make matters worse. More research is needed to understand the possible effects of overconsumption. Overall, CBD has a favorable safety profile, but it is imperative that people with serious health conditions seek guidance from a medical professional before taking CBD.
Natural Partners for CBD
Because CBD works best with other holistic approaches, it is best to integrate whole plant CBD into your wellness plan. Here are a few other health options to integrate with CBD to supercharge its impact:
- ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOOD PLAN. Think mostly vegetables of all colors and low-sugar fruits, plus detoxifying herbs such as parsley, rosemary, and cilantro, along with selected dairy products and possibly minimal grains. Yes, this can go beyond gluten-free. Consulting with an integrative clinical nutritionist who is a holistic cannabis practitioner is your best bet for guidance.
- HIGHLY PROCESSED FOOD DETOX. Cut down on foods that are highly processed, as they contain highly inflammatory ingredients, especially sugar.
- NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS. CBD pairs well with nutritional and herbal supplements, working synergistically to create balance and homeostasis.
- MEDITATION. This ancient practice, along with other mind–body modalities like Qigong, has proven time and again to reduce stress, encourage health, and increase overall happiness. Finding just 10 minutes a day to be still and breathe can make all the difference.
- MOVEMENT. Simply stepping away from your desk or getting off the couch can do wonders for your body and mind. Incorporating activities as simple as climbing stairs, taking a dip in the ocean, walking on the beach, and hiking in nature can do wonders for your sense of well-being.
- ESSENTIAL OILS. Using oils such as lavender, pinene, and limonene can change your mood and outlook. That feeling of calm that you get in a forest is from the pinene oil in the pine trees!
- COMMUNITY. At the end of the day, perhaps the most important wellness partner is being part of a vital community and staying clear of toxic relationships.
From The CBD Oil Miracle by Laura Lagano. Copyright ©2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
Photography by Alyson Brown